|Common Name||Oscar, Velvet Cichlid, Mabled Cichlid|
|Scientific Name||Astronotus ocellatus|
Overview of the Oscar
An Oscar, also known as a Cichlid is a tropical fish that originates in the Amazon River Basin. This fish comes in many sizes and colors. Colors include different varieties of red, usually on the sides, albino, yellow, and grey to name a few. Oscars are very popular among aquarium hobbyists, and one reason is because the fish learn to recognize their owners and are very tame. Oscars start out very small and cute, which is why they are appealing to so many aquarium owners. But, if you are a new aquarium owner and think the Oscar is going to stay small, you will be very surprised when one day you wake up and see they outgrew their tank. They will need lots of care, a nice large and clean environment, and they live a long time.
An Oscars’ Growth Rate
Oscars start out very small when you see them in the store. First, when you buy them, they are about one to two inches in length. Depending on how you care for them, depends on how fast they grow, but an average Oscar may grow about one inch a month for the first seven to eight months of its life. When it is about a year old, it will be about eight inches long.
Caring for your Oscar
To care for an Oscar, you will need to get food that is suited for them. They will eat just about anything that fits in their mouth. To keep them healthy, they will need a variety of foods. Keep in mind, they are carnivorous, however, you do not need to feed them live fish. Feeding them live fish such as guppies or goldfish will put them at a higher risk for developing diseases. Stores sell frozen food or pellets and as long as they are meaty, the Oscar will do just fine. Fruit, insects, crayfish and worms are all good things to feed Oscar Fish, but ensure that you vary it enough that they get all the nutrients that they need, supplementing with vitamins if necessary.
Cleaning your Oscar
Make sure you clean their tank regularly and have an excellent canister filter for the tank; two is even better. Because they become so large, they have larger appetites and are very messy eaters, so this leaves a lot of waste behind. This will entail changing about 25% of their water every two to four weeks. You want to make sure the tank stays pretty clean and you want the nitrate levels to be low. Test the water once a week to make sure the levels is at their best.
Life Expectancy and Disease
An Oscar’s life span is really long. They can live as long as 15 years if taken care of properly. Be prepared that if you do buy an Oscar, it will be with yours for years to come. That is why some owners love them because they are around for many years. If you are one to get attached to your pets and want yours to last for a long time, then this is the pet for you.
In general Oscar Fish are a species which don’t show many outward signs of physical illness. Internally they are very susceptible to deficiencies and if left untreated they can develop ‘Hole in the Head Syndrome’. Hole in the Head Syndrome can be ‘cured’ by correcting the deficiencies which the fish has, whether they are in the water or in its diet. If fish which are affected by ‘Hole in the Head’ are left untreated the ‘holes’ in the head will get bigger and infected and the fish will eventually die.